Hareide: “I only regret one thing”

Knut Arild HareideAfter almost eight years it is probably over. Knut Arild Hareide is considering stepping down as Party Leader of the Christian Democrats (KrF). Photo: Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB Scanpix

Hareide: “I only regret one thing”

After almost eight years it is probably over. Knut Arild Hareide is considering stepping down as Party Leader of the Christian Democrats (KrF), regardless of the outcome of the Government negotiations.

This autumn’s big political drama, the Christian Democrats’ choice of path, is history. For Hareide it is not completely bygones yet. Some realisations go deeper – and appear later.

“Being clear brings power. To fight for something you really believe in and risk everything. I think this election of the path ahead is going to leave a mark. It is possible to lose with a straight back and respect,” he tells NTB, in what is probably one of his very last interviews as a Party Leader.

Even though he lost the battle for the path ahead and did not succeed in making the party take a historic left turn, there is one only thing that Hareide regrets:

“It’s that I didn’t do this earlier.”

Blank sheets

A few minutes earlier: Hareide comes bouncing through the corridors of the Norwegian Parliament, balancing a paper cup of coffee. Safely inside his office, he sweeps away Christmas cards and notes from a meeting table and leaves it is just as free of clutter as the future of the Christian Democrats’ presumably resigning Party Leader.

Apart from remaining in the Norwegian Parliament until the next general election, he does not know what the future brings. The only thing that is certain is that he is not seeking any possible Cabinet Minister post.

“I do not see that as natural,” Hareide says. he, at the same time, believes that the upcoming talks with the Solberg Government will succeed – in spite of large distances between the parties in matters such as climate, tax policy, immigration and abortion.

“Not least because the four parties wish to reach an agreement,”  Hareide believes, emphasising on «wish». If so, he will resign.

“Will you hang on if the Government negotiations fail?”

“We must take this into consideration, if and when. It is not certain that it will be the right thing for the party,” Hareide says, twirling the cup around and around and around.

For it is not a given that the Christian Democrats take a left turn – if the negotiations do not succeed.

“The doors of the Labour and Centre Party is probably less open in 2019 than it was this autumn,”  Hareide believes.

Heaven is the most important

Some have pointed out that it might seem that Hareide actually wished to lose, especially because he was not offered an extended hand from the Labour and Centre Party after his “blue” rival, Christian Democrats Deputy Leader, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad, teamed up with the Conservatives and the anti-abortion cause.

“That is not correct,” Hareide firmly replies.

“I was probably more disappointed after the National Convention than I showed at the time. But I was adamant to follow the rules of the game. I’m not going to my grave filled with bitterness. ”

“A commentator writes that someone should inform you that good guys go to heaven, while the bad guys end up at the King’s table?”

“It’s more important to go to heaven,” Hareide affirms.

“Besides, I’m not sure whether to accept help from Labour and the Centre Party would have served my cause.”

Faded abortion cause?

The abortion issue, which, according to many, was decisive for the choice of path, seems to have been pushed down on the Christian Democrat’s list of demands during the explorations.

“How important is an impact in the abortion matter for the Christian Democrats to reach an agreement on a Government platform?”

“For the Christian Democrats, it is important to obtain a significant Christian Democratic stamp on the policy,” Hareide utters diplomatically and highlights children’s reform and climate as prime examples. In addition, the party will require a separate Department for Development, under its auspices.

“How large opportunities does the Christian Democrats have to gain voters while in Government?”

“Hm. This was why I pointed in the direction that I did. Last time we were in Government, we were halved in size,” He acknowledges.

In the polls, the Christian Democrats have diminished even more since the party chose the bourgeois.

“But at the same time, being in the Government provides a clarity [regarding our policy] that I believe will serve the party. Besides,” he waves his index finger, ” many of those, who signed up before the National Convention speech this autumn, are still members. That is really good,” Hareide concludes.

Facts About Knut Arild Hareide

  • Born 1972 on Bømlo in Hordaland, as the youngest of five brothers.
  • Married to Lisa Marie Hareide, two children.
  • Inaugurated his political career in 1991, when he as an 18-years-old, was elected to be member of the municipal council in Bømlo.
  • In 1998, he was recruited as political adviser to the then Minister of Church, Education and Research, Jon Lilletun (Christian Democrats). The following year he became a member of the Christian Democrats Youth’s (KrF) Central Committee.
  • In 2001 he was appointed as state secretary at the Ministry of Finance in the Bondevik II Government. The same year he was elected to the Christian Democrat’s Central Committee. In 2003, he was elected as Second Deputy Leader of the party.
  • In 2009, he entered the Norwegian Parliament for the first time, on a levelling mandate.[1]
  • In 2011 he was elected as the Leader of the Christian Democrats after Dagfinn Høybråten resigned from the post.
  • In September 2018, Hareide opened up for Government cooperation with Labour and the Centre Party. But the desire for a historic left turn was thwarted by a small margin by the extraordinary National Convention in November.

Hareide has announced that he will resign as the Party Leader if the negotiations on a Christian Democratic entry into the bourgeois Government bears fruit.

[1] In Norway some Parliament seats are reserved for balancing out, ie based on the overall votes instead of solely on county representation.

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